We don’t often think of plants as being good gifts for Christmas. After all, they are hard to wrap and tend to dry up and die if left under the tree or in the house too long. But plants are a gift that keeps giving for years to come. As they grow and mature they are a constant reminder of the thoughtfulness of the giver. The fact is that all self-respecting gardeners would welcome a new plant for their garden just about any time of the year so why not consider December as good as any. Here are some suggestions that I would happily receive for my garden.
‘Chief Joseph’ Pine- This is the Holy Grail of pines as far as I am concerned. Chief Joseph is a sport of our native lodge pole pine that turns bright yellow during the winter months and will be a beacon in the garden all during the cold and dark days of winter. This is a rare plant and in short supply. Luckily, we still have some in stock but who knows how long they will be around. Stop by soon if this is on your shopping list.
Daphne odora ‘Moonlight Parfait’ — This is a Monrovia introduction that improves upon the tried and true ‘marginata’ variety that we have all grown up with and come to love. ‘Moonlight Parfait’ has much broader bands of yellow in the leaves and consequently makes a brighter presence in the garden. And of course the winter blooming flowers are just as intense as the original form. No garden is complete without a Daphne.
‘Plum Passion’ Vine Maple — Like the above ‘Chief Joseph’, this is a sport of a northwest native (what we are now calling “Nativars”). ‘Plum passion’ sports dark purple stems in the winter and plum colored foliage during the growing season, and of course stellar fall color. Why settle for vanilla when you can have ‘Plum Passion’?
Fatsia ‘Spider Web’ and ‘Camouflage’ — These are two variations of the good old and reliable Japanese Aralia. Both have tropical-looking evergreen foliage and bloom in the winter. ‘Spider Web’ has splashes of white, which contrast nicely with the dark green leaves, while ‘Camouflage’ is a bit more subtle with undulating masses of yellow throughout the foliage.
Hellebore ‘Silver Dollar’ — Hellebores are reliable winter blooming perennials that thrive in our northwest climate. This hybrid forms an upright clump of leathery, serrated, heavily silvered, blue-green leaves with outward facing, saucer-shaped creamy-green flowers that, on the outside, are mauve with a rose blush. Whew, how’s that for a sales pitch? Flowers appear in late winter and continue on into spring. ‘Silver Dollar’ will perform well in a shady part of the garden or as a winter interest component in a container.
Cornelian Cherry ‘Golden Glory’ — If you have room for a small tree, consider this relative of the dogwood. I have one in a bed that is over 20 years old and it is still only 12 feet tall. Spidery yellow blooms hang on for two months in winter, sometimes starting as early as December.
Pieris ‘Impish Elf’ and ‘Sunsprite’ — From the Enchanted Forest Collection of Monrovia Nursery comes these two new and improved flavors of Japanese Andromeda. Both have dark buds that open in late winter, to either white or pink bell shaped flowers that will draw pollinators into the garden. Glossy foliage is a nice contrast to our dark conifers.
All of the above suggestions are outstanding winter interest plants that will add some pizazz to the garden and delight the favorite gardener in your life.